Palestinians probe the depth of graft: Hamas’s campaign to end corruption may have spurred the inquiry into millions in stolen aid. (Joshua Mitnick, 2/09/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

In the wake of Hamas’s parliamentary landslide, government embezzlement and graft have moved to the top of the Palestinian domestic agenda. This week, the Palestinian Authority’s attorney general announced 50 investigations that account for about $700 million stolen from the government treasury.

While the inquiries are being credited to President Mahmoud Abbas, observers say it was the ruling Fatah Party’s loss in last month’s Palestinian parliamentary vote that sparked a push for investigations into the corruption long thought to be endemic within the PA.

Such are the disciplinary effects of elections.

The ballot box can moderate Islamists: To maintain voter confidence, the Muslim Brotherhood needs to keep a moderate stance (Bruce Rutherford, 2/09/06, CS Monitor)

After the Muslim Brotherhood achieved unprecedented success in Egypt’s parliamentary elections late last year, I talked to the movement’s spokesman, Essam al-Erian. He tried to reassure me that the group is politically moderate: “We seek a democratic, parliamentary republic that respects the rights of all citizens.” […]

During the election campaign last year,the Muslim Brotherhood did provide some cause for optimism. It focused on bread-and-butter issues: provision of public services, better education, less corruption, and more accountable government. Its success was due, in part, to persuading many Egyptians that it genuinely cared about their everyday well-being.

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